The Columbus Clippers are extremely proud of their award-winning ballpark. Huntington Park, which opened in 2009, has been named “Ballpark of the Year” a total of six times by various publications. So it jumped to the top of my list of ballparks to visit this summer.
Arriving at the ballpark
Huntington Park is part of downtown Columbus’s Arena District, which means there are numerous parking spots within a short walk from the stadium. According to the team’s website there are 14,000 spots within a 10-minute walk of the ballpark. Standard Parking-controlled lots charge between $3 and $5 depending on proximity to the field. Visitors staying at a downtown hotel should have at maximum a one-mile walk to the stadium. Fans staying at hotels farther away could use the city’s CoGo bike share program, which costs $8 for a 24-hour day pass. The program currently has 72 stations with almost 600 bikes (more info here).
Entering the ballpark
Fans who walk to the stadium from a downtown hotel or park south of Nationwide Boulevard are most likely to see the scenic entrance in center field.
A statue of Harold M. Cooper titled “The Father of Columbus Baseball” greets fans outside the center field gate. Cooper is a monumental figure in Columbus baseball history. He worked as a clubhouse boy for the Columbus Red Birds from 1935 to 1942. After the Red Birds relocated following the 1954 season, Cooper led a group to purchase another Minor League club and relocated the team to town as the Columbus Jets. He served as general manager of the Jets from 1955 to 1968. In 1977, as a Franklin County commissioner he convinced the local government to purchase Jets Stadium and a new Triple-A club. The club became the Columbus Clippers and are still owned by the county government.
There are several plaques around the statue that detail the history of professional baseball in Columbus. One such plaque retells the city’s first professional baseball game between the Hartfords and the Columbus Buckeyes. Other plaques include information about each of the professional teams the city has hosted, including the Clippers.
One of the coolest features of the stadium is that fans can walk behind the outfield at street level and see into the ballpark.
Regardless of how early or late a fan arrives, it is exciting to catch a glimpse of the field.
Exploring the ballpark
The club entrance is behind home plate and flanked by statutes of the team’s mascots.
Several banners on the concourse explain the science of different positions on the baseball diamond.
Along the third base line are two notable items: a bronze sculpture and a bell.
The Victory Bell was originally used at the city’s main firehouse. In the 1950s, the fire department donated the bell to the Columbus Jets, who hung it next to the press box and rung it after each win. The bell was mothballed when the Jets left town and passed onto the Clippers in 1977, and moved with the team to Huntington Park in 2009.
Moments later I found the team’s mascots. I attempted to get my picture with both, but Krash was too busy signing autographs.
Kids have two play areas: left field with inflatable items and center field with a splash fountain.
Fans seeking history have two spots to visit: a wall display along the right field line and the Left Field Building’s Columbus Baseball Hall of Fame. The Clippers also have photographs of almost every player who suited up for a Columbus team throughout the ballpark.
The team store is in the Left Field Building.
Eating at the ballpark
The club level features two concession stands and a large bar in the center of the level.
Both concession stands on the club level feature general ballpark food. For example, Bullpen Bistro has a hot dog combo meal, a chicken tender basket, and a hamburger/cheeseburger platter. The stands also offer favorites like Cracker Jack and funnel cake fries.
The concourse gives fans several options ranging from classic ballpark fare to contemporary items like paninis, pizza, and vegetarian burgers. All the vegetarian items are available at Grand Slam Station down the third base line from home plate.
A quest for unique food at Huntington Park leads fans to two options: the Churro Donut and the Clipper Ship Nachos.
The Churro Donut is made from churro batter, but shaped like a donut instead of a long stick. It is then covered in cinnamon and sugar. It was a delicious sweet treat. The Clipper Ship Nachos are customizable. The nacho chips are topped with either taco beef or shredded chicken. Fans can then add refried beans or corn and black bean salsa. The order is topped with a choice of shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, sliced black olives, and either nacho or shredded cheese. The loaded nachos are ideal to share with another person, but more than enough to satisfy one hungry fan.
Drinking at the ballpark
For fans with access to the club level the most convenient place to get a drink is the large bar behind home plate.
The bar offers a variety of macrobrews, imports, and macro-owned craft brands. The craft options include Terrapin Beer Co. and Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., which are both owned by MillerCoors. However, it is a full-service bar that also serves wine and liquor.
Another full-service bar is on the second floor of the Left Field Building. Beer options at the bar are rather pedestrian, but the patios offer fans a fantastic view of the stadium. Fans can also order food delivered to their patio table.
Fans seeking independent, craft beer will need to work to find their beers. The Clippers have several small booths around the concourse with “Beer Ahoy” atop the wooden banner. Each booth serves different beers. Some of the local breweries found at the stands include Columbus Brewing, Land-Grant Brewing, and North High Brewing. National craft brands like Samuel Adams and Yuengling are also available throughout the ballpark.
Watching the ballgame
Columbus Clippers right-handed pitcher Asher Wojciechowski delivers the first pitch to Norfolk Tides left fielder Joey Rickard.
Like many newer ballparks, Huntington Park sits in downtown with the city skyline as a backdrop. The view from behind home plate is stunning, but so is the view of the grandstand.
In addition to capturing overviews of the stadium, I got a few shots of game action starting with the visiting Norfolk Tides.
I also got a few shots of the Clippers wearing their special Sunday powder blue tops.
Another great piece of action was the Hot Dog Race.
The Hot Dog Race finish tied into the Princess & Pirate Day promotion. Toward the end of the race, Ketchup stopped and turned Relish and Mustard into toads to claim the victory.
Recapping the fan experience
Whether fans are cheering for the home team or just a good time at the ballpark, they will find that experience when they attend a Columbus Clippers baseball game. Fans will find a variety of food, whether they want the ballpark classics or the weirdest, most unique item on the menu. The beer selection provides fans with the typical macrobrews, but Huntington Park also offers a solid selection of local, independent craft beer. Like most MiLB teams, the Clippers have a parade of promotions that offer fans a unique reason to come back if they want something more than baseball to keep them entertained.
Final: Norfolk 3, Columbus 8